Blog Post

Spike Lee, Hurricane Katrina, and Why We Need A Voice

Spike Lee's work, "When the Levees Broke-A Requiem in Four Acts", is a thoughtful work that focuses on four different aspects of the Katrina disaster, and the negligence of the government response in the aftermath.

However, it is less an attack piece on George Bush (though it very well could be), and more interested in looking at the greater issues of what these people are about and why it is important for them to be as much a part of the tapestry of New Orleans and the Greater Gulf Coast (affected by Katrina as well) .

These are people with a uniue culture, and a unique heritage, and for them to be made the victim of a natural disaster that could've washed that away is tragic. The fact that many of them are being displaced to the far reaches of our Manifest Destiny, that is, as they say, the killer.

The Creole legacy cannot be washed away by flood waters of a questionable levee collapse (and there is a historical precident on a number of occassions as to why they think they're being moved again), nor could it be moved away from Louisiana, Mississippi, or the Gulf region. The people are part of this area and part of this soil--they're buried in it, they've sewn their food in it, and that can't be washed off. The fact that storms and government foul ups would attempt to turn New Orleans into this sort of "Bourbon Street Ride brought to you by Walt Disney & FEMA" is a notion as ridiculous as it is sinister.

There are the attempts to rebuild--and to do so in a way that prices out the poor from coming home, and makes refugees of families that have been there for generations. This wouldn't be so bad if people weren't so quick to forget the past.

The past shows us the 1927 flooding of the Ninth Ward. The Past shows us the intentional dynamite of the levees to protect the monied French Quarter and drown the poor in NO East and St. Bernard's Parrish after Hurricane Betsy. The past shows us this government doesn't care about black people--or at the very least, poor people, to paraphrase Spike Lee and Kanye West.

But it is Kanye and Spike and many others--including even those overpaid pro athletes we so love to decry, but have turned to so frequently in our recent years' strife--who are giving a voice for the people affected by this disaster. It is the Joe Horns, Drew Brees, and Reggie Bushes of the New Orleans Saints. It's the LSU Tigers. It's the New Orleans Hornets. It's Spike Lee, It's Kanye. It's a loud pulpit from which to shout WE ARE HERE. WE WILL NOT GO AWAY.

And it is a bully pulpit from which the winds of change will blow as strongly from as the winds of Katrina tore the roof off the Superdome and washed away so many lives.


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